Okay, grads, listen up.  Back in the dark days before you were born, we used to have a thing called etiquette. It was a bunch of rules for a civilized society to follow. I won’t bore you with all of the details, but here’s a BIG ONE.  Are you ready?

Say “thank you”.

You invited a bunch of folks to come to your party, eat cake, look at adorable photos and, hopefully, bring a gift to commemorate your special day. Would it kill you to pick up a pen and paper and write a thank you note?

When my own daughters were growing up, I was known as a “mean mom”. There’s a story behind that, but I’ll save it for another day. When they graduated from high school, my daughters enjoyed the fruits of their graduation party – lots and lots of cards with dead presidents inside.

As they opened the cards, I told them this:  You can’t spend a penny of it until the thank-you notes are mailed.”  And I made sure they wrote a note to every gift-giver.

I told you I was a mean mom.

Writing thank you notes sounds like a daunting task, but it’s not. Remember, it’s one note at a time. They don’t all have to be unique, heartwarming, memorable notes. Trust me, if you hand-write a note, that in itself will be memorable.

My daughters and I came up with this plan. Well, okay, it was mostly me, but I wish someone had given me this advice when I had to write my own thank you notes. Ready? Here you go:

  1. Grandparents (usually the givers with the deepest pockets) and “Special People” get a special card. Go to the store and spend some time choosing a card that will make Grandma cry. Add a simple, heartfelt note, perhaps with a childhood memory of time spent with her. Trust me, it’s worth it. She’ll show it to her friends at the beauty parlor or church – and even to strangers in line at the grocery store – and she’ll get misty-eyed every time.
  2. Everyone else gets basically the same note. Write a “sample” note, and use it as your template. Dear _____, I’m so glad you were able to come to my party. Thanks for the gift of ___. I’m hoping to use it when I go to college this fall.” (OR) …I’ve been saving to buy a car, and your gift will help me reach my goal. (OR) …I’m backpacking around Europe this summer, and your gift will give me the chance to buy buckets of beer while I’m in Germany. I’m sure you get the idea. The template takes the work out of it.
  3. NO TECHNOLOGY ALLOWED. Do not use email, twitter, texting, chat, or any other form of electronics or social media to send thank you notes. You may be growing up in a paperless society, but I’d like paper, thank you very much.
  4. Don’t even try to tell me you’re too busy. That won’t fly. I wasn’t too busy go to the store and buy you a card or to write your check and bring it to your party. Suck it up, sit down & focus on one task until it’s done. Consider it preparation for a real job in the real world. A well crafted thank you note is never out of style and is always, always appreciated.

You may not want to take the time but, trust me, you’ll thank me later.

Perhaps with a well-crafted thank you note.